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A Catholic senator from New Jersey is pushing his Democrat governor and a local cardinal to restart religious services outside.
State Sen. Mike Doherty launched a petition last week urging Gov. Phil Murphy to allow religious gatherings with "reasonable precautions, including outdoor services, social distancing and limitations on the size of gatherings."
Doherty hopes the petition's 2,300-plus signatures will move Murphy to drop his draconian ban on all gatherings of any size.
Murphy has cited a recent study by Harvard University that claimed the shutdown could last until 2022.
The governor asserted, "I don’t see a normal ... even if it were to take place, a normal gathering in the foreseeable future. I just don't see it."
Doherty is also getting pushback from Newark Cdl. Joseph Tobin, who supports church closures.
Tobin's press secretary told CNA on Wednesday that, owing to the concentration of cases in the New Jersey area, it was "prudent to continue compliance with statewide mandates for social distancing protocols at this time."
Even if Murphy relaxes restrictions, Tobin might not follow, as his press secretary reminded everyone, "The process of how and when to reopen churches will be determined by the ordinary and his diocesan staff."
Doherty is fighting back, saying the constitutional right to practice religion shouldn't be impeded.
He wants Murphy to recognize that religious services are no less essential than people's supposed need to buy lottery tickets and liquor, which are still allowed during the pandemic.